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Barony Church, Glasgow: designs for a church, 1793, executed to a variant design (5)


Until the eighteenth century, the parish of Barony in Glasgow, would congregate in the crypt of Glasgow Cathedral. In 1798-9, a new church was built next to the Cathedral for this congregation, to the designs of James Adam.

John Robertson was the cousin of Robert and James Adam and worked in their office as a draughtsman and clerk before becoming an architect in his own right. Some sources have attributed the designs of the Church to Robertson, however, King argues that it is far more likely that these designs were made by James Adam as one design is signed from their London office on Albemarle Street and there is also a record in a book at the Church from 1812 that discusses the design of ‘Mr Adams’.

In addition, Bolton suggests that a group of drawings in the Soane collection (SM Adam volume 1/146-8) might also be related, however, there does not appear to be any relation between these drawings and Barony Church, and they are therefore not included in this scheme.

The design for the Church was a mixture of the Adam castellated style and gothic. It had a simple rectangular plan but with a rather grandiose front containing two staircases within octagonal towers.

Adam had intended to seat a congregation of 1,500 people, however, the 1857 Ordnance Survey map shows the church capacity as 1,250 people. The style of the church was anecdotally criticised by Queen Victoria’s chaplain, Dr Norman MacLeod as one of the ‘ugliest kirk in all Europe’.

The Church was demolished and replaced by a new church to the east of the original site, to designs by J. A. Campbell in 1886-89.

Literature: A.T. Bolton, The Architecture of Robert and James Adam, Volume II, Index, 1922, p. 14; A. Gomme, D. Walker, The Architecture of Glasgow, 1968, p. 64; D. King, The Complete Works of Robert & James Adam and Unbuilt Adam, Volume 1, 2001, pp. 15, 66, 73-75, 413-4; H.M. Colvin, Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 2008, p. 876

Louisa Catt, 2023



If you have any further information about this object, please contact us: drawings@soane.org.uk

Sir John Soane's collection includes some 30,000 architectural, design and topographical drawings which is a very important resource for scholars worldwide. His was the first architect’s collection to attempt to preserve the best in design for the architectural profession in the future, and it did so by assembling as exemplars surviving drawings by great Renaissance masters and by the leading architects in Britain in the 17th and 18th centuries and his near contemporaries such as Sir William Chambers, Robert Adam and George Dance the Younger. These drawings sit side by side with 9,000 drawings in Soane’s own hand or those of the pupils in his office, covering his early work as a student, his time in Italy and the drawings produced in the course of his architectural practice from 1780 until the 1830s.

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Contents of Barony Church, Glasgow: designs for a church, 1793, executed to a variant design (5)